2 - King George IV Laureate head Sovereign (1821-1825)

S.3800 King George IV (Laureate Head) : 1821-1825 currency sovereigns.

The King’s bust to the left, laureate, tye with loop at two ends, hair short and bare neck. B.P. in small letters below truncation standing for Benedetto Pistrucci.

St.George slaying the Dragon. The date is shown below the exergue line with the letters B.P. to the right for Benedetto Pistrucci.

Obverse Legend : GEORGIUS 1111 D:G:BRITANNIAR:REX F:D:

(George IV by the Grace of God, King of the British territories, Defender of the Faith)

Unlike other sovereign series neither of the George IV issues are known to include any significant varieties. The 1822 sovereign shown above can be taken as a typical example of the laureate issue. 

Of the 5 coin series 1821/22 and 1824 are not too difficult to find in grades up to Good Very Fine, for less than £1000 with the 1824 maybe commanding a few pounds more. The going gets a little tougher when looking for examples approaching true Extremely Fine or better. With each increment probably adding £500-£1000 to the price you will need to pay. At this point I feel I should quantify some aspects of grading especially with many online auction sellers only too eager to raise a grade or two. The George & Dragon design high points are the helmet rim and the right side of St Georges chest, as you can see in my 1822 example these areas show a small amount of wear. The obverse tends to flatten quite uniformly on these with the 1st evidence of wear normally being the loss of definition to the laureate leaves. This stops my coin from being an extremely fine example, Good Very Fine at best.

Its also worth examining milled edges as these sovereigns came from an era when coins were often solder mounted and used as jewelry, this is likely to go hand in hand with a cleaning, and is almost certain to destroy its value.              

A word of caution is also necessary with the 1822 many excellent forgeries produced in Lebanon in the 1970s have found their way into the numismatic market and great care and expert advise should be sort before purchasing a high grade example. Having recently examined one of these the biggest clue appears to be the fact they seem too good, edges are sharp and appearance seems more akin to a 1960’s or 70s struck QE2 sovereign.

The 1823 and 1825 can both be considered as very rare coins with just 616,770 1823 sovereigns struck a tenth of that produced in 1822, and an unknown quantity for 1825. Both do turn up with the 1825 almost exclusively as the far more common 2nd issue Bear head type. When found these will almost inevitable be in lower grades, but still expect to have to pay £2000 upwards for either of these in anything above Fine, with the 1823 being the harder coin to find. Grades approaching Extremely Fine and above will be far more difficult to source, and you can expect to pay @£6000 for a 1825 in something close to EF and even more for the 1823 of which the best know example sold as lot 14 in the Bentley collection sale for £18,000 almost double its estimate. That coin described as Extremely Fine with a 'myriad of tiny marks' having previously grade as MS63 by NGC in 2003. 

Total recorded mintage for 1821 :  9,405,114

Total recorded mintage for 1822 :  6,356,787  (calendar year only 5,356,787)

Total recorded mintage for 1823 :  616,770

Total recorded mintage for 1824 :  3,767,904

Total recorded mintage for 1825 :  (unknown) included in 1825 Bare Head figure.

The total number struck for the laureate type 1st issue sovereign for the reign of King George IV, totalled :  approximately 20,446,575 allowing for '300,000' from those issued in 1825, all were struck at the New Tower Mint in London.

Master of the Royal Mint 1814-1823 : William Wellesley Pole succeeded 1823–1827 Thomas Wallace.

Chief Engraver Royal Mint 1821-1828 : Benedetto Pistrucci succeeded 1828–1851 William Wyon.

King George IV (1820-1830) - Part 1

King George IV (1820-1830) - Part 3

King George IV (1820-1830) - Part 4

Return to - Knowledge Base Home